Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda attacks our students, our neighbors, our friends—these are aspiring Americans who are working hard every day to make life better for their families, their communities and our country. His divisive and discriminatory actions instill fear in them and drive them further into the shadows of society.
Last week, we saw the Trump administration issue two harmful Executive Orders. One is an attempt to pressure localities to devote their critical staff and resources to doing the work of federal immigration officers, a policy that would discourage community cooperation with law enforcement. The other would divert an enormous amount of federal funding to building a ‘border wall’ – an infeasible and ineffective project – at a time when our children are in need of those critical resources in their schools and communities. Donald Trump’s dangerous agenda is in direct conflict with what we hold dear as a nation. These Executive Orders begin a deliberate and coordinated attack on those who come to America seeking safety, freedom, and opportunity and, in the process, make America a better country.
[pullquote]Educators know that how we treat our new immigrants refl ects our commitment to the values that defi ne us.[/pullquote]
We oppose these extreme actions because they are a drastic departure from our core American values. As the Trump administration threatens our students and our way of life, we will double-down on our efforts to protect the right of all students to a public-school education—no matter where they live or where they’re from.
His ill-conceived, extreme plans to isolate us from the rest of the world dangerously undermine our identity as a nation and our values as Americans. Educators know that how we treat our new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us. We believe that families should stick together, that we should look out for each other, and reward hard work.
There are opportunities for effective and serious approaches to make sure that the immigration system works for all of us, one that better represents our values and rich tradition of welcoming and embracing aspiring Americans.
Already, there’s bipartisan, bicameral effort to extend three years of protection of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and DACA-eligible DREAMERS, people who came to the United States as children, through the BRIDGE Act. In addition, there are educators and communities across the country creating and implementing policies like public school safe zones where all students are welcome.
In the end, these ill-advised and dangerous executive actions provide no long-term solutions. In fact, plain and simple, they are attacks. We continue to call on Congress and the Trump administration to do what is right for our students, their families, and our communities. We support a long-term plan to ensure our immigration system works for all of us.
Lily Eskelsen García is President of the National Education Association.